Groups Push for Poison-Proofing Homes and Schools to Prevent Poisoning Emergencies


An expert on the adverse
effects of chemicals on living organisms today advised students and their
teachers to be on their guard against harmful substances that may put their
health in danger.

Speaking at a forum organized by the EcoWaste Coalition to mark the
National Poison Prevention Week,  Dr. Nerissa M. Dando, Associate
Professor and Toxicology Consultant of the National Poison Management and Control Center
(NPMCC UP – PGH), reminded some 300 students of the Manila Science
High School to be
cautious as poisons come in various containers, forms  and sizes.

In line with the theme “Poisons in the School: Prevention is the
Solution,” Dando, who is also the President of the Society of Adolescent
Medicine of the Philippines,
underscored the old saying “prevention is better than cure” to stress the
importance of avoiding exposure to poisonous substances in a proactive manner
than to deal with it later.

“Poison prevention education is essential to protect our children from
unwittingly exposing themselves to hazardous products and wastes.  We can
avoid poisoning emergencies that may even lead to severe injury and death by
becoming aware of actual and potential hazards in our surroundings and taking
concrete steps to poison-proof our homes, schools and workplaces,” said Dando,
a clinical toxicology expert.

For her part, Maria Eva S. Nacion, Principal of the Manila Science
High School, stated that
by learning and acting together, we can make our faculty
members, students and non-teaching staff more safety-conscious to prevent
poisoning incidents, which can put our children’s health and their future at

Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect cited some
of the more common poisons in the school setting that can make children ill if
ingested or inhaled, including lead-containing paint chip and dust, schools
supplies laced with hazardous ingredients, laboratory chemicals, busted
mercury-containing fluorescent lamps, and cleaning agents such as chlorine
granules, oxalic acid crystals and sodium hypochlorite (aka “clorox”). 

Seemingly harmless stuff like paracetamol, vitamins, lipsticks,
colognes, perfumes and sanitizers can become a poison and cause serious injury
if used in a wrong way, Dizon also warned.

Dando explained that children are more sensitive and susceptible to the
harmful effects of hazardous substances than adults because their body defense
systems are still developing, they consume more food and water and breathe more
air in proportion to their body size, and their hand-to-mouth behaviour can
expose them more to environmental contaminants.

To poison-proof our homes and schools, the groups school administrators
and teachers, as well as parents, to observe the following:

1.  Handle, use, store and dispose of products
safely.  Seek out eco-friendly products that do not contain hazardous

2.  Read the product labels carefully and follow the safety
instructions.  Pay attention to the hazard pictograms and precautionary

3.  Keep medicines, bleaching, cleaning and laundry products,
insecticides, paints, varnishes and thinners, and car maintenance materials out
of children’s sight and reach in a securely locked cabinet or area.

4.  Return all products to their proper storage immediately after
use.  Do not leave them unattended.

5.  Never place poisonous products in beverage and food containers
such as drinking cups or softdrink bottles.  Keep them in their original

6.  Never reuse pesticide and other chemical containers for
storing food and water.

7.  Do not mix household cleaning products together. 
Combining bleach and cleaning products with ammonia, for example, can form
dangerous fumes.

8.   Wash children’s toys and other play things regularly to
minimize the risk of your child coming into contact with lead-containing dust
and other environmental pollutants.

9.  Teach kids how to safely use art materials such as crayons,
water colors, glues and other adhesives and remind them not to eat or drink
while doing their art assignments.

10.  Whenever there is question of poison exposure, please call
the NPMCC or consult a medical doctor nearest to you.  Don’t make your
child vomit.  Keep the following numbers of the NPMCC by your phone: at
 02-5241078, 5548400 local
2311 or

The National Poison Prevention Week is observed every fourth week of June as
per Proclamation No. 1777, series of 2009 to increase awareness on the
preventive aspects of poisoning prevention at home, school, work and the
general environment.